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Industry (Government Support)

Part of Opposition Day — [1st allotted day] – in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 16th June 2010.

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Photo of Jack Dromey Jack Dromey Labour, Birmingham, Erdington 3:32 pm, 16th June 2010

First, the reference was to 400,000 cars. Secondly, the companies are British-based world class manufacturers of machine tools who, when I was at their exhibition last Friday and met many of them, said with one voice, "For us to succeed, we look to support from and partnership with Government." Those are precisely the companies that were rescued from the brink by the car scrappage scheme.

The lesson from experience in the real world of work is that industry best flourishes in partnership with Government, with a framework provided by good government, and sustained and strategic investment underpinned by a determined national will. One need only look at Germany's enduring strengths in manufacturing, which exist precisely because there is that national will. I am proud of the fact that a Labour Government embraced industrial activism. Now is absolutely not the time to pull back from that, because it would be an error of historic proportions. The decisions we make now will decide whether we grow or decline in the future-whether we condemn another generation to no hope. It is therefore essential that we invest to grow and act to rebalance our economy, which had become too heavily dependent on the finance sector.

That is why, for manufacturing, capital allowances matter because they incentivise investment in machinery and plant. That is why, for manufacturing, the patent box matters, with its 10% reduction in corporation tax to encourage innovatory companies to locate intellectual property and manufacturing here in Britain. That is why, for manufacturing, it matters that there is support for research and development. I hope that in refocusing current support, it is not so severely circumscribed as to avoid support for world-beating companies such as Jaguar Land Rover. The Jaguar plant in my constituency is at the heart of a hub of 150,000 people in the midlands who depend on the motor industry for their livelihoods. I will look to the Government to work with me, as the Member for Erdington, in respect of the Jaguar plant, and Lorely Burt, in respect of the Land Rover plant, to secure the future of those two beacons of manufacturing excellence.

That is also why regional development agencies matter. What we have heard today is ill-informed prejudice that flies in the face of the history of, in particular, the successful RDA that is Advantage West Midlands. I have seen that at first hand. After the crisis at Rover in 2000, the supply chain became less dependent on Rover, thanks to the work of Advantage West Midlands. As a consequence, when Rover collapsed in 2005, the supply chain did not collapse, as might otherwise have been the case. The manufacturing technology centre and the manufacturing advisory service are prized by manufacturing employers in the midlands, and that is because of what Advantage West Midlands has done.

Let me issue a challenge to the Secretary of State: necessary as it is to move beyond myths, will the Government now publish the independent evaluation of regional development agencies ordered by the Labour Government before the election? Will he confirm that that demonstrates that Advantage West Midlands is one of the best two RDAs; that for every pound of public money invested, £8.14 of wealth is created in the regional economy; and that it has scored the maximum possible score and has been deemed to be performing strongly? In this new era of openness, will that report now be published?

Birmingham is historically the laboratory of manufacturing and of the genius and enterprise of the British people; too often, now, it is British genius but made in China. Our single biggest task is the renaissance of manufacturing in our country. That will not happen if Government once again abandon British manufacturing.

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